Music coordinators, also called music supervisors, work everywhere from small churches and schools to the teams behind blockbuster movies and award-winning television shows. They choose songs for soundtracks or for performance, based on the intended audience and the allotted budget. They typically have a strong interest or an academic or professional background in music. They also need excellent people and communication skills, and an understanding of the financial and legal aspects of securing rights to musical compositions.
Education and Experience
Music coordinators need an extensive background in music as well as a knack for managing money. While a music degree is not always required, some employers may prefer it. For its radio music coordinator position, the University of Arizona prefers applicants who have undergraduate degrees in music, communications or broadcasting combined with two years of directly related professional experience. However, candidates can substitute more experience for the degree.
Music coordinators choose music based on the intended audience and the mood or theme of the production or event, setting aside their personal tastes. They draw from a variety of sources when selecting music, sometimes reviewing pieces submitted to them or attending concerts in the hope of discovering new talent to showcase. In addition, they sometimes oversee the hiring of musicians if original material is to be created for a project. This might also include recruiting other members of the music production team, including composers and arrangers.
Legal and Financial Aspects
Music coordinators must ensure the institution or production stays within the allotted budget. At some organizations, they might participate in planning a long-term budget. For example, at the University of Arizona, the radio music coordinator estimates the money needed for additions to the music library. They also conduct research to determine who owns the rights to a song and what the company must do to obtain the rights to use it. Television music coordinator Amanda Krieg notes that the procedure for “clearing a song” varies by organization, and that this process sometimes involves politics and knowing how to communicate well.
Technical Skills and Knowledge
In addition to music knowledge, music coordinators sometimes need proficiency in specific equipment or technology. Production company Lionsgate, for example, requires its TV music coordinators to know how to formulate spreadsheets for tracking music budgets. At some companies, a music coordinator’s job also requires using computer-based music and video editors. The music coordinator must understand the various audio formats and be adept at organizing music files and the other components involved in putting together a production or program.
Because music coordinators work in such a wide variety of organizations, the salary varies widely as well. Someone working at a school or at a small church, for example, will likely earn less than someone working for a film or television production company. In addition, some of the smaller organizations only hire music coordinators on a part-time basis. At a community church, a music coordinator might work just eight hours a week and earn just a few thousand dollars a year. Berklee College of Music notes that music supervisors in the entertainment industry could earn as much as $500,000 for a high budget feature film, as of 2012.